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Posts Tagged ‘wage gap’

I grew up in the Washington, D.C., area. Several of our school systems notoriously underperform amid poverty and socio-economic disparities. But I didn’t want to become another statistic in a system that is so closely associated with juvenile delinquency and crime.

I defied the odds by attending college to create a better life for myself. My four-year journey has been arduous. Through late nights spent writing papers and studying for exams, I have learned that success can be achieved through higher education.

I have been able to finance my education through grants and scholarships. Unfortunately, many of my peers are graduating from college burdened by thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Sadly, receiving an education often means being saddled with debt.

The U.S. Department of Education estimates that in 2010–11, the average college tuition was $13,600 at public colleges and $36,300 at private institutions. These statistics are particularly disheartening for women who seek to enter the workforce upon college graduation. As a senior, I am crippled by the fear of adulthood and the process of searching for a job in a harsh economy. In addition to these fears, I am facing the tragic truth that my gender will put me at a disadvantage in the job market. When I look to the future, I often wonder if my daughters will face these same struggles.

Tremendous strides have been made to promote gender equality in the workplace. In 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This legislation is a positive step toward helping end sexist employer practices. This act empowers women to seek legal remedies against sex discrimination by allowing the statute of limitations to reset every time a woman receives a discriminatory paycheck.

Despite this step forward, women still face a pay gap just one year after college graduation. And while paying back student loans is a challenge for all of my college friends — female and male — it is especially difficult for my women friends thanks to this gap. AAUW’s recent report, Graduating to a Pay Gap, illustrates the connection between mounting student loan debt and pay discrimination.

According to the study, one year after college graduation, the average woman in my situation will get paid just 82 percent of what her male classmate is paid. As women, we have fought for an end to gender-based discrimination. Yet, in spite of the efforts of generations of women, we are still struggling in 2012 to be paid fair salaries.

As members of the millennial generation, we are fooled into believing that all of the great battles for equality for women ended in the 1970s. This is a naive presumption. As women, we can fight for equal pay by working within the legal system to report pay inequality. We must be our own advocates in demanding salaries equal to those of our male counterparts. The choice to dismantle these sexist institutions is ours. It is up to us to ensure the next generation of young women no longer has to fight. Let’s make sure that the battle for pay equality ends with us.

This post was written by former National Student Advisory Council member Ola Ojewumi.

 

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For the past eight months, our It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard campaign has done everything possible to inspire young women to vote on November 6. With just one day left in the final countdown to Election Day, we want to share with you our favorite inspirational posts from our campaign’s Tumblr. Share them with someone who might need motivation to vote!

  1. Fair pay e-cards

    When we saw the latest wage gap numbers a few months ago, we knew young women would care that women still typically get paid 77 cents for every dollar a man gets paid. So we came up with some snarky e-cards to remind folks that the fight for fair pay isn’t done — and this November could make all the difference.
  2. Facebook cover photos

    If the young women of America are anything like us, we’d bet that they love Facebook and pictures of kittens. We merged the two with a virtual voting billboard that can be easily uploaded on Facebook. It’s easy to change your cover photo, which is a great way to tell your Facebook friends that you’re voting.
  3. Sandra Fluke’s pep talk for voters

    Personal stories are motivational. And when those stories come from people like Sandra Fluke — a NCCWSL Woman of Distinction and AAUW friend who became famous for being a strong advocate for birth control access — they’re even more powerful. So it was no surprise that Fluke’s It’s My Vote pep talk was our most popular. In the video, she tells the story of a poll worker who remembered her from the previous election. So few young people had voted that Fluke stuck out at the polls. There’s too much at stake in this election for young women to not show up, and Fluke’s video drives that point home.
  4. “Speak up, show up” graphic

    If you’re on Facebook, you may know a few wannabe pundits who are constantly on their soapboxes. We’re all for people speaking their minds. But if Election Day isn’t part of speaking out, what’s the point? That was the motivation behind this graphic — a visual reminder of who listens to those who don’t vote.
  5. Liza Donnelly’s pep talk for voters

    It’s no surprise that the second most popular pep talk we made was from another NCCWSL Woman of Distinction: Liza Donnelly. I have to agree with the crowd on this one. I’ve watched every single pep talk our campaign has, and Donnelly’s always stands out. Watch it yourself to see why.

Of course, no image, video, or graphic is as powerful as a personal phone call. Take the time today to make sure the young women in your life are voting. Lilly Ledbetter can tell you how. And make sure you have everything you need to vote. The AAUW Action Fund has voter resources that cover polling places, voter-ID laws, and anything else you’ll need for tomorrow.

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On October 24, AAUW will release a new report, Graduating to a Pay Gap. The following is the third installment of Gap and Gown, a new blog series inspired by the forthcoming research.

AAUW has been at the forefront of advocacy for fair pay for women for more than 100 years.

In 1894, the Association of Collegiate Alumnae, the precursor to AAUW, partnered with the Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics of Labor to examine the pay of college-educated women by collecting employment and salary information from ACA members. The bureau analyzed the data, and ACA published the results in the 1896 report Compensation in Certain Occupations of Women Who Have Received College or Other Special Training.

The report is fascinating. It is the testimony of the women themselves that proves most interesting. These rare, first-person accounts of women’s work experiences at that time are not often found in archival collections — or anywhere, for that matter.

Here are a few quotes from the report. As you read them, remember that they were written in 1894!

The woman in industry who finds herself employed in the occupations which are open to men and who frequently performs identical work for a salary or for wages much below those paid her co-workers of the opposite sex is naturally apt to inquire what reason, economic or other, justifies this inequality.

Men oftener than women have to support others. In spite of this, I cannot see why a man should be paid $200 more than I am paid to do the same work when he does it no better.

I know that my work here is appreciated and is paid because of its worth. I think many women are helping to keep down the rate of women’s wages by consenting to work for less compensation than would be given to a man for the same grade.

When I was doing office work, I received $6 a week and kept the books and was a typewriter, too. If a man had been employed for this work, his pay would have been $15 a week, and he would not have been required to perform the general office work. He would have been a professional bookkeeper, however, which I was not.

Women are fearful of asserting their inherent rights, standing as they now do on the verge of freedom. The time, however, is not far off when women will have a voice in making just laws for themselves and others, and this will no doubt have an effect in securing equal remuneration for equal services to both sexes.

Today we call “equal remuneration for equal service” by its simpler title: equal pay for equal work. On October 24, AAUW will release its latest equal pay report, Graduating to a Pay Gap, which builds on the shoulders of these women who worked on the issue more than a century ago.

This post was written by AAUW Archivist and Records Manager Suzanne Gould.

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Elect Her–Campus Women Win, a collaboration between AAUW and Running Start, encourages and trains college women to run for student government. Follow the links below to read highlights from this spring’s trainings.

Adding More Women’s Voices to Eliminate the Wage Gap — University of Wyoming

Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) emphasized that Wyoming has the highest pay gap in the United States and that more women need to run for office to address this problem. In Wyoming, women earn 65 cents, on average, for every dollar men earn. Nationally, the figure is 77 cents.

Don’t Be Afraid to Throw Up … and Other Lessons — Idaho State University

Sharon Parry, an Idaho Falls City Council member, gave a fantastic speech about her political leadership on the council. When she ran for office, she was opposed by a female incumbent and two men, and she did not sugarcoat how hard that experience was. She was told when she announced her candidacy that “we do not need another woman on city council.”

Wright State Women Prepare to Lead  — Wright State University

Participants had the opportunity to reflect on both local and national issues that recently inspired them to take action. From tuition hikes on campus to attempts to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, students spoke about the issues that affected them and discussed solutions to address those issues.

We’re Half the Population, So Why Aren’t We Half the Government?”  — Boise State University

Madison Hansen, who participated in the training, said, “I’ve always been a proponent of women holding office — we’re half the population, so why aren’t we half the government? But I hadn’t really considered running for anything myself. However, after participating in Elect Her, I am planning on running for office on campus next year. Elect Her taught me not only that I should do it, but I can do it.”

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On Tuesday, April 17, AAUW marked Equal Pay Day — the symbolic day when women’s earnings finally catch up to what men made last year — with a patio-style Unhappy Hour outside our national office.

Featuring a “secret salary” garden (see below) and a pep talk from AAUW Director of Public Policy and Government Relations Lisa Maatz, the event — which drew more than 150 guests — was a great success. See for yourself!

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The Simple Truth About the Pay Gap (2012)

Before I started working at AAUW, I never really gave much thought to the gender pay gap. Sure, I knew it existed. I knew the numbers — women make 77 cents, on average, for every dollar earned by men — and I wasn’t pleased about it, but that was about the extent of my concern.

There are a handful of reasons why I wasn’t on the front lines of the fight for fair wages — being a post-grad, for example, made it difficult to conceive of any stable wage, let alone a fair one. But the most notable reason was that I simply didn’t know how the gender pay gap actually worked. I didn’t know how it was calculated, what numbers people used, or where these numbers even came from. Most of all, I didn’t understand exactly how these numbers ended up being different for men and women.

Today, I know and understand all of those components — and then some. And while I have the advantage of working in a research department that is dedicated to this issue, I know that anyone can learn these basics. With our recent publication The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap, anyone and everyone can understand how the wage gap works. Updated with the most recent statistics just in time for Equal Pay Day, the brochure is short, accessible, and free of academic jargon or lengthy analyses.

However, understanding a subject like the pay gap is not without its consequences. While I am less ignorant, I am also more frustrated by the research presented in The Simple Truth. I am frustrated that the pay gap increases as men and women get older: Women ages 16–19 who are working full time earn 95 percent of what their male counterparts earn, compared with 76 percent for women 65 and older. I am frustrated by the fact that while the pay gap among all full-time workers is dreary enough, it’s even worse when we focus on minorities. For example, on average Hispanic and Latina women and African American women earn 91 percent of what men in their same racial demographic earn but only 61 percent and 70 percent, respectively, of what white men get paid. I am frustrated that while critics attribute the pay gap to men’s and women’s choices, there remains a 12 percent unexplained difference — after controlling for things like college major, industry, number of children, and other factors — in earnings between male and female college graduates 10 years after college, as shown in AAUW’s research report Behind the Pay Gap.

But anger and frustration aren’t necessarily bad things. When anger is properly harnessed, it becomes fuel for social change. Anger gives us the incentive to get up and actually do something. Gloria Steinem once said, “The truth will set you free. But first it will piss you off.” With knowledge and truth — and the energy that both incite — we can collectively work together to ensure that all women earn their fair share for a job well done. So take the first step, and share the truth with your friends, your communities, and your politicians by giving them a dose of The Simple Truth. Order copies of the report online for free, and look out for updates on what you can do on Equal Pay Day this year.

This post was written by AAUW Research Intern Julie Smolinski.

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Despite recent stories about how women are poised to out-earn men in coming generations, the stark reality is that worldwide, women still make an average of 18 percent less than their male counterparts at work.

Messed up, right?

Despite a narrowing of the wage gap in the United States from the 1960s to the 1990s, no significant progress has been made in closing the global gender pay gap for over a decade. So perhaps my skepticism toward reports celebrating my lucrative future is warranted when, despite women’s remarkable gains in educational achievement, progress toward our equal compensation remains entirely stagnant.

Bleaker still are the adverse effects of childrearing and higher education on women’s wages. AAUW’s report Behind the Pay Gap confirms that among college-educated men and women within the same majors and occupations, a pay gap exists in the first year after graduation and continues to widen over the first 10 years in the workforce — even when controlling for factors known to affect earnings such as education and training, parenthood, and hours worked. The absurdity persists when it comes to having kids, as women with children earn less on average than their childless counterparts, while men with children tend to receive a “child premium,” meaning that they earn more on average than men without children.

Equal Pay Day this year falls on Tuesday, April 17, a date that symbolizes how far into 2012 women must work to earn what men were paid in 2011. But losing three months and 17 days of earnings doesn’t worsen outcomes for women only. The wage gap hurts families, who, as recent stories rightfully report, are increasingly likely to depend on women as their primary breadwinners.

Since our initial research on the issue back in 1913, AAUW has been fighting the good fight for equal pay. It’s clear that we’ve made remarkable gains. Yet as we prepare for Equal Pay Day 2012, generate additional research deciphering who is affected by wage inequality and why, and publish another blog post to debunk false notions about the end of the wage gap as we know it, it is strikingly clear how far we still need to go in our quest to earn equal pay for equal work.

This post was written by AAUW Public Policy Intern Julie Seger.

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Getting America back to work is of paramount importance. As the president and Congress argue over the best way to jump start a slowing recovery and stagnant unemployment figures, they must hear this: Job creation and economic opportunity are critical issues for women. Many struggle with economic insecurity and wage discrimination. While the recession may have led to more lost jobs among men, women have borne the brunt of a slow recovery.

The last few years have been particularly unkind to American women. Between June 2009 and May 2011, women lost 218,000 jobs and saw their average unemployment rate increase 0.2 percent. By contrast, men gained 768,000 jobs, and their their unemployment rate dropped by 1.1 percent. According to the Pew Research Center, “Employment trends during the recovery have favored men over women in all but one of the 16 major sectors of the economy.” Even in fields traditionally associated with women, such as education and health services, men gained jobs at a faster rate than women.

To promote economic recovery, the president and Congress must focus on creating jobs, training our workers, and ensuring those jobs are good ones — the kind that pay equitably and provide economic security. After all, a stimulus is our taxpayer dollars at work. Going forward, many workers will need to access training to upgrade their skills to fit new demands, especially if Congress passes job-creation legislation that increases the need for workers in certain sectors and in certain areas.

AAUW strongly believes that access to high-wage, high-skill jobs should be a right for women and girls from diverse racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, age, and disability backgrounds and that access includes training for nontraditional jobs. Additionally, any job creation legislation must promote equal pay — women who work full time earn about 77 cents on average for every dollar men earn. Since women are increasingly the primary breadwinners in their households, the wage gap undermines families’ economic security. With 71.4 million women in the workforce as of July 2011, wage discrimination hurts the majority of American families.

Too many Americans are unemployed, and too many women have seen their jobs disappear even since the economic recovery began. Congress can alleviate the pain and suffering of families, but temporary job creation that focuses on male-dominated industries and leaves out training and access for women will not ensure that workers find economic security for themselves and their families.

This post is part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.

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Next Thursday, September 8, President Barack Obama will give what’s being touted as a major speech that will pressure the so-called debtsuper committee” to focus on job creation and tackling the nation’s high unemployment rate, which stood at 9.1 percent in July 2011. While the speech is of interest to all Americans, it’s particularly important to women. Job creation and economic opportunity are critical issues for women, many of whom continue to struggle with economic insecurity and wage discrimination.

The last few years have been particularly unkind to American women. Between June 2009 and May 2011, women lost 218,000 jobs and saw their average unemployment rate increase 0.2 percent. By contrast, men gained 768,000 jobs and lowered their unemployment rate by 1.1 percent. According to the Pew Research Center, “Employment trends during the recovery have favored men over women in all but one of the 16 major sectors of the economy.” Even in sectors traditionally associated with women, such as education and health services, men gained jobs at a faster rate than women.

Yet when women have found jobs, wage discrimination remains problematic. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women who work full time earn about 77 cents on average for every dollar men earn. Because of the wage gap, since 1960 the real median earnings of women have fallen short by more than half a million dollars compared to men.

This gap has real consequences. With 71.4 million women in the workforce as of July 2011, wage discrimination hurts the majority of American families. Women are increasingly the primary breadwinners in their households, so the wage gap undermines families’ economic security. Additionally, wage discrimination lowers total lifetime earnings, thereby reducing women’s benefits from Social Security and pension plans and inhibiting their ability to save not only for retirement but also for other lifetime goals such as buying a home and paying for a college education. Researchers have calculated that the average 25-year-old woman will earn $523,000 less than her male counterpart over the next 40 years.

Women deserve not only equal employment opportunities but also equal pay for that employment. Women play a critical role in our nation’s economy, and we must not leave them behind as we recover from the recession.

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If you’re reading this, chances are you’re already familiar with the wage gap and with the grassroots efforts that take place across the nation every April to raise awareness about gender discrimination in the workplace. Maybe you’ve even participated in these efforts or in Equal Pay Day events. You probably already know that since the 1963 passing of the Equal Pay Act, the wage gap has closed a mere 20 cents; the year is 2010, and on average women are still earning less than 80 percent of what men earn. You probably weren’t all that surprised when the Paycheck Fairness Act was shot down in November, although you were probably deeply disappointed. We all were.

Last April, I collaborated with student organizations from my university and with local businesses to bring awareness to my community. We held our own Equal Pay Day. Comments on local news sites called our equal pay initiatives “leftist indoctrination” and stated that if my university had not just chosen a female president, students would have never been allowed to hold such an event. When I approached businesses with the opportunity to participate in Equal Pay Day, I was called a socialist and — my personal favorite — a liar.

As my college graduation date quickly approaches, the reality of pay inequality is setting in. The resistance I’ve encountered to something as seemingly simple as equal pay, well, it scares me. We live in a nation that allows for systematic discrimination against women in the workplace (not to mention how much the wage gap affects minorities), and I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough.

Despite my pessimism, being part of a national movement seeking the end of pay discrimination gives me hope. Even after being told I’m a liar, that the fight for pay equity is pointless, and that women don’t actually deserve equal pay, I still have hope that someday soon, we won’t have to fight this battle anymore. In 2011, I’ll bring Equal Pay Day to my community again, and I’m determined to make it even bigger, better, and more influential than last year. I’ll continue with these efforts until the wage gap is a thing of the past. Social change is possible and despite setbacks, pay equity is not only a possibility, it’s something Americans will see.

Abby Lemay (right) with other members of the AAUW Student Advisory Council on the National Mall in Washington D.C. in October 2010.

Not convinced? Look at organizations like AAUW. Talk to your local branch and ask what they plan to do in your community for the pursuit of pay equity. And maybe, just maybe, ask how you can get involved.

Simple actions affect the big picture in ways we can hardly begin to imagine. Because of dedicated, passionate individuals, politicians, and organizations, someday future generations will read about the wage gap in their history books as a relic of the past instead of having to face the issue in their everyday lives — the harsh discrimination of being paid less simply because you’re a woman.

This blog post was written by 2010–11 AAUW National Student Advisory Council member Abby Lemay.

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